Washington (CNN) - Sen. Bill Nelson of Florida called Thursday for a halt to exploratory oil operations in coastal waters and said he plans to introduce legislation to block expanded off-shore drilling while authorities investigate the explosion and fire that sank an oil rig in the Gulf Coast.
In a letter to President Barack Obama, Nelson said the potential environmental and economic damage from the current spill required immediate preventive actions until the cause is discovered.
"Until we learn what happened, I'm asking that you also call for an immediate halt of test wells and all other exploratory operations in coastal waters," said the letter from Nelson, a Democrat.
In addition, Nelson said he would file legislation "that would for the time being prohibit the Interior Department from acting on your administration's plans to expand offshore drilling, including seismic testing and other exploratory operations."
The prohibition would exclude producing wells, the letter said.